The Bristol riot

by Chris Bertram on April 26, 2011

Bristol had a riot last Thursday night. I wasn’t there, although I’ve spoken to a number of people who were or who observed events from windows overlooking the action. The facts are still not entirely clear, but becoming clearer. As far as I can establish them they are:

  • The police received “intelligence” that someone at the squat opposite a new and locally controversial branch of Tesco (the biggest British supermarket) was planning to petrol bomb the store.
  • Accordingly, a very large number of police (upwards of 160) with dogs and shields etc turned up with the aim of arresting a person or persons at the squat
  • They timed their raid for about 9.15 pm on the evening before a public holiday, in a somewhat countercultural area (Stokes Croft), with lots of pubs and bars, and large numbers of semi-inebriated people hanging about in the street given the unseasonably warm temperatures.
  • They started pushing people about and got pushed back, and then lots of stuff got thrown. Some of the police actions were excessive; some idiots did some nasty things to the police, such as dropping large bricks on them from the top of buildings.
  • The police abandoned the scene completely some time in the small hours of the morning, leaving elements in the crowd free to attack the store, which they did. It is now fairly seriously damaged.
  • Four people appear to have been “charged”:http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/appear-city-court-face-charges/article-3484085-detail/article.html , one with possession of a petrol bomb. That person has an address in another part of the city.
  • Beyond this the facts are murky.

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    Hard Keynesianism in the European Union

    by Henry on April 26, 2011

    John Quiggin and I have a “piece”:http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67761/henry-farrell-and-john-quiggin/how-to-save-the-euro-and-the-eu on the eurozone mess in the new issue of _Foreign Affairs._ The piece is subscriber-only, but we’re allowed to post it (in Web format) for six months or so on a personal or institutional website. Accordingly, the piece can be found below the fold. The piece was finished some weeks ago, but I think it holds up quite well.

    Four things worth noting. First – I suspect we would put our argument that the politics are more important than the economics even more strongly in the light of current events. It looks as though demonstrations against the austerity agenda are beginning to take on a European dimension. In addition, a dimension of the politics that we did not discuss – the rise of nationalist resentments in countries that are on the giving rather than receiving end of loans-linked-to-brutalism – has come more obviously to the fore with the success of the True Finns in the recent election.

    Second – Paul de Grauwe has a “new paper”:http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/ew/academic/intecon/Degrauwe/PDG-papers/Discussion_papers/Governance-fragile-eurozone_s.pdf which points to a complementary mechanism through which monetary union plausibly damages political legitimacy at the national level (although his discussion is largely framed in terms of the economics).

    bq. Once in a bad equilibrium, members of monetary union find it very difficult to use automatic budget stabilizers: A recession leads to higher government budget deficits; this in turn leads to distrust of markets in the capacity of governments to service their future debt, triggering a liquidity and solvency crisis; the latter then forces them to institute austerity programs in the midst of a recession.

    Third: the Daniel Davies qualification. We refer to BIS data on bank holdings in the article – but as we specifically note (and as dsquared has pointed out in comments here and elsewhere), this data is biased by tax avoidance wheezes and similar. It is plausible to infer that e.g. German banks have some considerable exposure to PIIGS from the way that they are behaving, and the numbers are the best that there is, but they should be treated with caution.

    Finally – the piece is written in the rhetorical style of US policy articles. This differs from that of blogposts and academic articles, in that it encourages emphatic claims rather than cautions and caveats, and self-assurance rather than social-scientific humility. Please read accordingly.

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